OK, OK I don’t want to be blasé about child abductions but Uruguay’s travel restrictions for minors resident in Uruguay—even when they have a non-Uruguayan passport—are kind of intense.
And if you’re planning your family life in Uruguay, you need to inform yourself about this. Though it’s not a deal breaker, it can be (excuse my French) a total ball breaker, if you’re not prepared.
When our son was a minor getting a travel permit for him was such a nightmare we ended up endowing him with the legal permission “to travel alone to any country in the world”–and he wasn’t even ten. It was totally freaky. I can’t tell you how relieved we were when he turned 18.
Guru’Guay’s resident lawyer adviser Mark Teuten goes into detail on minors permits. You must read this if you have kids and live or intend to live in Uruguay.
Uruguay has a strict legal regime to prevent children being taken from the country by a parent or third party without permission. It’s so strict that it frequently causes problems for foreigners who want to travel with their children. But it also catches out Uruguayans too. Here’s what you need to know about the process, what documents are required and when.
Who needs a travel permit in Uruguay?
The law states that all minors (under 18)
1. Of Uruguayan nationality or
2. Foreigners with permanent residence granted or applied for, or
3. Who have been living in the country for a year or more
must get a permit to travel abroad unless they are traveling with both parents.
Note though that in this last case the parents must get a fresh copy of the minor’s birth certificate as registered at the Uruguayan civil registry–a process which itself takes about 30 days–to show that the child really is theirs. The copy must be less than 30 days old to be valid.
[Guru note: Feel exhausted already, dear parents?]
How to get a minor’s travel permit
1. Book a date to apply via the tramites.gub.uy website
2. Get a new copy of the child’s birth certificate (less than 30 days old).
3. Valid ID cards or passports of both parents and the minor in a good state of repair (note: the Immigration Office are getting very difficult about the state of repair of the old style ID cards)
4. If minor is using a foreign passport issued in Uruguay, this must also be presented.
The different requirements according to your family situation
Child traveling without either parent Both parents must personally attend at the Immigration office and sign the permit.
Child traveling with one parent Only the parent not traveling must attend at the Immigration Office, but both parents’ ID must be shown and that of the minor.
Child whose parents are deceased A special authorization from a judge will be needed.
Child with one deceased parent The surviving parent must attend and have a copy of the death certificate of the other parent.
Child with a guardian A permit is not needed to travel with the guardian. If not traveling with the guardian, the guardian will have to attend and take a certified copy of their appointment.
Adopted children The adopting parents must attend and take an updated birth certificate which should contain a marginal note confirming the adoption details.
Is it possible to avoid the need for a travel permit?
Only if the minor is Uruguayan and has a Uruguayan passport. The passport acts as a permit from both parents to travel without restrictions. Uruguay passports for minors are issued for a standard period of 3 years [Guru note: Yeah, why did I expect that it would not be that easy].
Travel permit validity and restrictions
1. Permits are valid for one year.
2. Permits can be restricted to travel to a particular country/countries.
3. Permits can specify with whom the child is allowed to travel.
4. Permits can be for one trip or for multiple trips (subject to the 1 year limitation).
5. In the case of minors who have applied for permanent resident status but it has not yet been granted they must also get a reentry permit from the Immigration Office.
The current cost of a travel permit for one trip is 277 pesos, around 7 USD at the time of writing. Add the same amount for each additional trip you add to the permit.
So what do we advise?
Make sure you book a date over the internet sufficiently in advance of the travel date and that you have all the documents that will be required. The advantage of the internet pre-booking system is that queuing is now minimal and the whole process should not take more than 30 minutes. And ensure that you have registered the child’s birth certificate at the civil registry well before any planned date of travel.
[Guru tip When our son was a minor we would get a permit for 8-12 trips a year and specify our son had our permission to travel alone to any country in the world. Imagine what it felt like putting this down on paper when he was under 10! Yup, it was totally freaky. But it was SO worth it not to have to return multiple times in a year. As additional trips were not expensive it was well worth paying for more trips than less. I can’t tell you how relieved we were when he turned 18.]
Birth certificates registered after 2012 are now available on line free of charge. Certificates registered prior to 2012 can be ordered online, but you will need to go to the Civil Registry personally to pick them up, which at the moment because of Covid restrictions can lead to delays.
Registration of foreign birth certificates is currently taking 1-2 months.
By Ana Lia Mendez and Mark Teuten. Find out more about Teuten & Associates and how to reach them.
This article is for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please consult with a lawyer as to your particular circumstances.
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I don’t want to be blasé about family life protections in Uruguay but, unless you are prepared, travel restrictions for resident minors are a real headache.